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Betsy DeVos Won't Commit to Banning LGBTQ Discrimination in Private Schools

Betsy DeVos Won't Commit to Banning LGBTQ Discrimination in Private Schools

Susan Walsh
Susan Walsh/AP

Betsy DeWoes. 

During a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos evaded pressure to take an aggressive stance against schools that allow LGBTQ discrimination.

DeVos was asked by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore) to clarify whether private schools and charter schools, institutions that have their own independent guidelines for admission, would still receive federal assistance if they discriminated against LGBTQ students. DeVos had previously committed to giving vouchers to schools that follow federal laws, which raised questions about the department of education's commitment to protecting LGBTQ students in the schools.

Federal civil rights laws are vague on the subject of LGBTQ students. These laws prevent discrimination based on race, gender, or national origin from occurring in schools. It's not explicitly specified whether LGBTQ students fall under this umbrella of protection.

When the vagueness of the law was brought to her attention, DeVos still refused to pledge action against offending schools. "On areas where the law is unsettled, this department is not going to be issuing decrees," DeVos said. "That is a matter for Congress and the courts to settle."

Merkley, unsatisfied with DeVos's responses to his inquiries, said, "I think it's very important for the public to know that today the secretary of education, before this committee, refused to affirm that she would put forward a program that would ban discrimination based on LGBTQ status of students or ban discrimination based on religion."

Related | Trump to Address Anti-LGBTQ Leaders Before Equality March in D.C.

DeVos's reluctance to take a stance against schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students comes on the same day President Trump committed to speaking at the Road to Majority Conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, an organization known for their conservative stance on LGBTQ rights.

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